Mateusz Klich has been one of the stand-out players for Leeds United this season and there’s no doubt that his two best displays of the campaign came in both matches against Middlesbrough.
The 29-year-old midfielder has only scored four Championship goals this season but three of them came against Boro with him netting twice in a 4-0 win at Elland Road in November before bagging the only goal in a 1-0 win at the Riverside last month.
Klich has played every minute of every league match while Marcelo Bielsa has been in charge of the Whites and while he had fallen afoul of some supporters for a couple of poor runs of form, overall, you would have to say that he’s one of the Whites’ best players.
And that is because he has the ability to step up and play in the same way he did in both matches against Middlesbrough this season, with Jonathan Woodgate’s men failing to have an answer for the indestructible Pole.
As shown by WyScout, this is Klich’s heatmap for the entire Championship season for Leeds United. As you can see, he covers a lot of the pitch, especially in the areas around the penalty area with a slight emphasis on playing on the right-hand side in Leeds’ own half.
Next up are Klich’s two heatmaps against Middlesbrough.
First up is his heatmap in the 1-0 win away on Teesside last month. It is evident that the Poland international spread his play around a lot of the pitch but almost played in a right-wing position most of the time.
Below is Klich’s heatmap when he scored twice against Boro at Elland Road in November.
There is a far greater emphasis on him playing out on the right-wing but there is also a bigger spot just outside the D of the penalty area.
Klich’s at his best when he is in all the areas shown on the second heatmap, which also shows him having less time on the ball in his own half than he usually would.
For Klich’s first goal in the 4-0 win, he exploited that space on the edge of the Boro penalty area by bursting forward and smashing the ball past the goalkeeper.
Klich also scored his goal away at the Riverside in February with a similar run from the edge of the penalty area, but this time it was a part of an intricate passing move rather than a counter-attack.
Middlesbrough didn’t learn after the first game to keep an eye on Klich’s run from that area of the pitch and it punished them both times.
Stats by WyScout show that in the 4-0 win, Klich made five touches inside the Boro penalty area and made five progressive runs. His season average for touches inside the penalty area is 2.79 and his progressive runs average is 1.74.
Klich was allowed the freedom to get inside the area with these runs from deep and that refusal to learn from mistakes is likely why Middlesbrough are where they are in the league right now.
It pays to have an experienced manager in the Championship and Bielsa and Woodgate have proven that in their meetings this term.
In other Leeds United news, the Whites are hot on the heels of this £10.6million-rated goalkeeper.